It’s easy to misjudge Rob Schneider. Best known for his vulgar and dim-witted characters in films such as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Hot Chick and Grown Ups, Schneider’s often met with preconceived notions of his intellect and temperament. “The characters that I play are always slightly less-than, which is not necessarily who I am,” he says. “People get stuck, they have to categorise you in some way. You get pigeonholed.”
In 2005 Patrick Goldstein, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, noted that Schneider was deservedly overlooked for an Academy Award for Deuce Bigalow because “nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic”. Two weeks later, Schneider took out two full-page ads in the Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter commenting, “Maybe you didn’t win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven’t invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who’s Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers.”
“I just did that because I thought it was funny!” Schneider laughs. “Just because I’m an actor doesn’t mean I have to sit back and take it. He critiqued a film of mine before it had even come out. I didn’t think that was a fair shot. I starred in a dramatic film called The Chosen One and people were just like ‘oh, we didn’t know you could do that.’ That’s their limitations, not mine. But I’ve stop worrying about what people think of me. If you’re going to allow yourself to be in and on billboards, you have to be aware that you’re going to be criticised. It’s just part of the game – you can’t be too thin-skinned about it.”
Following some light discussion on the state of contemporary American television and his thoughts of the Breaking Bad finale, Schneider professes his undying love for his old stomping ground Saturday Night Live. “It’s an American institution – it’s been around for 40 years. The best description I’ve ever heard of it was that it’s a good restaurant in an amazing location, and there’s no other food around it.
“I’m a jazz guy. I’m a huge fan of John Coltrane," says Schneider as our conversation gears towards his musical tastes. “I don’t really keep up with current or popular music. I mean, if you had to tie me up and put in a room and make me listen to Katy Perry, I’d do it. But I’m going to be 50 later this month so it’s not my area of expertise.”
Schneider will be bringing his sharp wit and comedic antics to Australia for Just for Laughs, returning for the first time since his sold-out 2011 visit. “You have to have something interesting happening in your life,” he says on his secret to a solid stand-up comedy performance. “Things like the United States spying on the rest of the world, it makes for interesting material. We’re spying on Australia. That’s how paranoid our government is. I know you guys are going to go through a very conservative era over the next few years,” he says of Tony Abbott’s recent election. “Hopefully you’ll climb out of it.”
BY TYSON WRAY